|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
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- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Forcing democracy in Zimbabwe
Worn down by intimidation and constant court appearances for treason charges laid upon him by a repressive government, he seems to lack the energy of old.
Treason charges prevent him from leaving the country and lobbying abroad, but he is determined to keep fighting.
His party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has begun its campaign ahead of the March 2005 parliamentary elections, but it wants and needs electoral reform first.
"If the MDC goes... [into the next elections] under the current electoral act, they will be wiped out through rigging, through manipulation, through all kinds of methods," believes John Makumbe, a political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe.
But he says they are far from finished.
"The party has weathered the storm. They have remained together and are in a stage of consolidation."
Last year the party announced its "final push" and mass action was planned to protest at President Robert Mugabe's authoritarian grip on power.
But the police cracked down hard and the demonstrations fizzled out.
"There are arguments for and against participation, but if you participate under flawed conditions you are legitimising the process, but if you don't participate you make yourself irrelevant. They are both very strong arguments," says Mr Tsvangirai.
"We will prepare for the elections but a possible decision not to participate may be taken at a later stage," he adds.
There are growing voices of dissent growing impatient with the MDC's strategy.
Max Mkandla is president of Zimbabwe Liberators' Peace Initiative, a group he calls "the real war veterans" as opposed to the groups invading farms at the behest of the government.
"You can not preach peace where there is not peace. Plan A is the only answer and in the Plan A, the bullet is the only way forward to replace the government of the day," he says.
It is an extreme view, and the strength and loyalty of the police and military makes any non-democratic route dangerous.
And some wonder how keen people will be to risk death on the streets when they barely have the strength to feed themselves.
But Mr Makumbe believes mass action is the answer.
"I think the answer as to what's next is to go back to basics. Go back to mass action, but it needs the people of Zimbabwe to suffer a lot more before they are ripe for mobilisation."
"Zanu-PF is not in the best of shapes and is in danger of crumbling as a result of the fissures that have occurred due to the succession problem," says Brian Kagoro, chair of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, an organisation representing civic groups.
"I think the final solution is for Mugabe to go. He is the main stumbling block. Even for Zanu he has become a liability.
He is stuck in a rhetoric that is unhelpful for his party and the future of this country. He has allowed chaos to prevail even within his own party."
A Harare-based economist, John Robertson, suggests the collapsing economy could play its part, with internal pressure for change mounting from the young movers and shakers, simply because "there is nothing left to steal".
So the spiralling economy could bring the government down, as could party infighting or international pressure, but a democratic solution in next year's elections seems, right now, the least likely outcome.
Zimbabwe mulls changes to electoral system
A GRAPHIC showing how Zimbabweans voted in the 2000 general elections
Last updated: 06/27/2004 07:19:50 Last updated: 06/27/2004 03:20:42
ZIMBABWE is mulling changes to its electoral system ahead of general polls next year, with voting to take place on one day only under the supervision of a new "independent" electoral commission, a daily said Saturday.
The proposed new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), which will be "independent of government" will replace the current supervisors, including the Registrar General and the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC), the state-controlled Herald said. The new body will have five members appointed by President Robert Mugabe out of a list of seven candidates forwarded by parliament, the state-controlled Herald said.
The current Electoral Supervisory Commission also has members appointed by Mugabe, who has ruled this southern African nation since its 1980 independence from Britain.
Quoting sources who attended a meeting this week of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF)'s central decision-making politburo, the paper said voting would no longer take place over two days, but one.
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The proposed changes come after widespread criticism of Zimbabwe's electoral process following general elections in 2000 and presidential elections in 2002, which the main opposition party and some international observers said were not free and fair.
The authorities plan to set up more polling booths to allow for speedier voting, the Herald said. Votes will no longer be taken to counting centres for verification but will be counted at polling stations.
Translucent ballot boxes are to be used in place of wooden ones and electoral disputes will be settled in a special court in the six months following the polls. The proposed changes are to be discussed by cabinet and, if approved, to be forwarded for parliamentary approval, the Herald said.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) complained earlier this month that most of its challenges arising from the 2000 elections had not been heard, whilst seven challenges that had been won by the MDC were still under appeal.
It had demanded that more than a dozen conditions - including an independent electoral commission - be met for it to participate in next year's elections.
The other conditions include
the repeal of strict press and security